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Science In Jainism: [05.04] Concept Of The Eight Point Centre In Jain Cosmology: A Critique - Space

Published: 03.02.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

According to the Jains total space exists in two parts. The part in which animate and inanimate substances exist is known as cosmic space. The rest of the space that surrounds the cosmic space in all directions is known as acosmic or supercosmic space. Acosmic space does not possess any kind of substance. Cosmic space is finite in relation to acosmic space, which is infinite. Cosmology is the science, which attempts to give answers regarding the understanding of the phenomenon behind the cosmos. No one had earlier conceived or observed the existence of void space behind the cosmos. The concept of acosmic space and its infinite dimension is original in Jain literature. Requirement for a body to be in static equilibrium is that the vector sum of all the external forces and external torques acting on the body if measured about any possible point must be zero.

Any decision regarding the static equilibrium of the whole universe is difficult one. The role of acosmic space seems to be very important. Acosmic space surrounds the whole universe from all directions. The resultant effect will be that there will be no force, no torque no pressure and no entropy change etc. on the external boundary of the universe. Because acosmic space is completely a void space, the stability of the geometrical figure of the universe will depend entirely on its configuration and perhaps on its centre, which will be dealt with in the forthcoming section on geometry.
All evolving cosmological models are based on two basic postulates.

  1. Isotropy
  2. Homogeneity

Isotropy means, "In whichever directions we may look, the law of red shifts remains the same. The red shift being a measure of the recessional speed of a galaxy. This leads to the conclusion that at least presently the universe is expanding. Homogeneity i.e. the distant part of the universe would not have been different from our local environment.

According to the Jains universal space is not expanding but the formulation of all the four directions creates the misconception of expanding universe. It is interesting to know how the Jains have conceived the origin of directions. For this, EPC and its shape play an important role. EPC has a shape of a cube having eight-corner point. Each main direction (North, South, East and West) originates with minimum of two central adjacent points (out of eight points), which gradually increases by plus one point-paesa on each side.

In fact the regular increase of point-paesa elongates the main direction in the space. It is the peculiarity of the direction that it virtually takes a drum-like shape, perhaps due to the curvature caused by the direction itself in the space. As the space is inert it does not have any shape. It seems that the formulation of the direction in the drum shape, looks as if there is a curvature in space. According to the Jains, space and direction are two different realities of the universe. It is significant to note that these directions extend upto the end of acosmic space. It is, therefore, logical to presume that the boundary of the universe should be a curved one. It is in conformity with modern ideas.

The Jains have pointed out the existence of four main directions, four intermediate directions and one upward and one downward direction. Descriptions of the intermediate directions and Zenith and Nadir (upward and downward) directions are different from that of the main directions. The intermediate directions originate from one point-paesa of the EPC and elongate diagonally upto the end of the universe. The specific observation is that there is not gradual increase of point-paesa. Similarly, the Zenith and Nadir directions originate from four point-paesa and elongate to the end of the universe. The intermediate, Zenith and nadir directions, do not gradually increase in point-paesa.

It is to be noted that the formulation of main directions is different from that of intermediate, upward and downward directions. It accords with the Jain postulate that the motion of matter takes place only in the realm of main directions. Hence the isotropy the matter is moving away and away is observed to be causing the expansion of the universe. Homogeneity is observed by the uniformity and inertness of space.

  • Science In Jainism by Dr. M.R. Gelra ©
  • Edition 2002
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati

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